A statement from The National League Board.
“Following the review of the feedback from Clubs in connection to the recent Clubs meeting, a Board meeting this morning decided to halt the participation in the North/South Divisions for a two-week period, effective immediately.”
“As a result, tomorrow’s games are formally postponed.”
The decision by the National League board to suspend the fixtures in the National League North and South (but not the top division) has come as a great shock and disappointment to all of us.
It seems that the ‘vast’ majority of clubs in the North and South called for suspension. We were not one of them.
Although not wanting to take on any type of loan as a club and most certainly not wanting to rely on a loan to the League to be distributed fairly and equitably, we did very much want the league season to continue.
We have been in contact with our Member of Parliament, Gareth Johnson, gaining his support in approaching the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. The hope being that the second tranche of financial support can be in the form of grant aid (as with the first tranche) to avoid any clubs having to saddle themselves with debt to survive.
This suspension may give time for the League to negotiate a change to this funding channel and for this reason, we support a temporary suspension.
Our overriding desire is to ensure that we continue to keep everybody involved in putting matches on in these terrible times as safe as we possibly can. The stringent protocols we have put in place are managed and monitored with great care. With this in mind, we very much want to continue the season as soon as possible. Our undying thanks must go to our staff and supporters association for all their hard work in achieving this.
This great Club was founded by the great Community of Dartford in 1888 and rescued in 1992. Our supporters are the life blood of the Club and are missed terribly by everybody associated. I for one can’t wait for the day when we can open the gates again and be together supporting the team as one.
Thanks go to all of our supporters for their continued support in these strange and worrying times. We will do our very best to keep everyone engaged and informed as to what happens next.
Keep safe everyone
Following the review of the feedback from clubs in connection to the recent clubs meeting. A board meeting this morning decided to halt the participation in the North/South divisions for a two week period, effective immediately.
This means tomorrow’s clash at Hungerford Town has been called off.
A statement from Chairman Patrick Chambers
The National league have temporarily suspended our season along with all other teams in the North & South divisions.
It is important that everyone realises that this decision has nothing to do with safety or the COVID pandemic and evidence of this, is that the National league continues.
This is purely down to the fact that no funding is currently available by way of grant to finance clubs in the absence of fans, despite assurances back in October that further grants would be available for January, February & March if still playing behind closed doors.
Hungerford Town FC would not have commenced the season on any other basis and triggered player contracts.
This is an absolute disgrace and we have been misled in no uncertain terms.
At the Zoom meeting last Wednesday, I was assured that both the FA & NL were at those meetings with the DCMS back in late September, early October and that they are 100% certain that loans were never discussed and believed funding would be available by way of grants.
The winter sports funding package of 300m was announced back in December and 11m was earmarked for the National league and North + South.
At this point it was pointed out that 250m was by way of loans and 50m by way of grants, but still no clarification on the 11m.
We played on in good faith to have the rug pulled from underneath us in the last 7 to 10 days with very short notice on cancelling todays game.
Lobbying will continue to try and get this money converted to grants as previously promised and I would urge everyone to lobby wherever possible.
I have a meeting next Friday with our MP Laura Farris, who responded to my letter.
The potential consequences are catastrophic and the initial 10m grant would have been wasted and the cost of furloughing staff and players would dwarf the 11m at a huge cost to the tax payer.
To be clear, if the FA, NL & DCMS suspended the season temporarily on safety concerns due to the pandemic, I would 100% support that direction, but not due to the unforgivable way the club has been misled over finances.
If grants are made available and testing obligatory, that would be a satisfactory solution, as the safety of our players, staff and volunteers is paramount. However, we can be proud of the fact we havent had to postpone a single match due to a COVID incident.
There is now a real threat that Step 2 may well see the season become null and void after all the hard work and COVID protocols put in place and not least the vast amount of money spent thus far.
Spare a thought for our manager Danny Robinson who had promotion cruelly taken away from him last season, to yet again face a similar scenario, after thrilling us all with one of the most competitive squads in our history.
I sincerely hope he gets the opportunity to finish what he started back in October, as it has been an absolute privilege to work with him and his coaches and to see the amazing progress we have made with a limited budget.
On a personal note, the distraction of football and dealing with all that has entailed for me as COVID officer has definitely benefitted my mental health and I have received numerous messages from fans who have been given a lift from watching us from afar.
This morning I feel a little lost, but will continue the fight to right this injustice.
Please stay safe everyone.
Following the review of the feedback from Clubs in connection to the recent Clubs meeting, a Board meeting this morning decided to halt the participation in the North/South Divisions for a two-week period, effective immediately.
As a result, tomorrow’s games are formally postponed.
National League North Chester chief executive Jim Green
“The National League has confirmed to clubs the board is no longer considering the option of the league taking a loan and distributing to clubs.
“It adds clubs taking loans is not ‘seen as sustainable and viable’ (correct) so it appears the season now rests on a U-turn from DCMS.
“National League states the reason Step 1 is continuing is because the majority of clubs wished to continue, whereas at Step 2 the majority wished to ‘take at least a short break’ so the board decided to treat them separately.
“National League says it will ‘continue to challenge the position on what we believe was the original intimation on grants’ but accepts the risk no suitable further funding may be available.
“In the ‘coming days’ the National League will present clubs with a formal proposal on the status of the 2020/21 season to consider and vote upon.
“It seems Step 2 is heading for null and void and without financial support it’s difficult to see how some clubs in Step 1 can continue much longer.
“It’s an absolute mess. The National League should be feeling pretty embarrassed and ashamed this evening.
“There has been a lot of lobbying but I understand there is no sign of DCMS changing its mind and insists it must have a consistent approach across all sports.
“DCMS adamant it did not promise National League support from January onwards would be grants. National League believe this is what was ‘intimated’.”
Following the review of the feedback from clubs, in connection to the recent clubs’ meeting, a Board meeting this morning decided to halt the participation in the North/South Divisions for a two-week period, effective immediately.
As a result, tomorrow’s games are formally postponed.